As Georgia braces for the coldest months of the year, Central EMS recommends advance preparations for frigid temperatures and snowstorms, which are especially dangerous for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and young children.
“Taking preventive action is the best way to deal with frigid weather,” said Bobby Peardon, senior vice president of operations for Central EMS. “Minimize your outdoor exposure and prepare for power or heating outages. We are strongly encouraging people to review safety plans for extreme cold and weather emergencies.”
With a winter storm on the way, Central EMS recommends residents prepare for the season with a home emergency kit that includes:
When winter weather is forecast, check the supplies in your kit. If you plan to use a kerosene or space heater as a secondary heat source, install a carbon monoxide detector in the home. Also, keep blankets, first-aid kit, booster cables and a tool kit in your vehicle for emergencies.
When temperatures are dangerously low, limit time outdoors. When outside, dress warmly in multiple layers and stay dry. Remove layers before you begin to sweat. Do not ignore shivering, an important first sign of the body losing heat. Shivering is an indicator to move indoors.
Cold weather puts extra strain on the heart during exertion. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, be extra cautious when performing strenuous work, such as shoveling snow. If the activity is necessary, dress warmly and work slowly. The body already is expending energy to stay warm.
The elderly and very young are the most susceptible populations for cold weather-related injuries and illnesses. With age, the body becomes less sensitive to temperature change and might not realize the danger. Seniors should install a thermostat and check regularly to ensure house temperatures are at a safe level. Infants should never sleep in a cold room; an infant cannot generate enough heat through shivering. In an emergency, hold an infant and keep the baby warm with your body heat.
Serious health problems can result from exposure to cold, including hypothermia and frostbite. The symptoms of hypothermia, or dangerously low body temperature, in adults are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss or drowsiness. The signs of danger for infants are bright red, cold skin and very low energy. If you suspect hypothermia, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, call 9-1-1.
Frostbite most often affects areas of the body that are exposed to the elements, including the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Skin will appear white, gray or yellow, feel unusually firm or waxy and be numb. If these symptoms are present, seek medical attention immediately.
About Central EMS
Central EMS provides advanced life support, basic life support, critical care, nonemergency and emergency transport services from 13 stations throughout the state. Eight stations are located in the Atlanta metro area and its surrounding counties. Central EMS also serves Northeast Georgia from an Athens location; Central Georgia from Macon, Dublin and Newnan locations; and Southeast Georgia from a station in Savannah. Additionally, Central EMS provides air ambulance services national and internationally through Central Air Ambulance based in the Metro Atlanta area.
Central EMS transports approximately 50,000 patients annually with more than 100 emergency vehicles. The company specializes in ambulance transport service between hospitals and other health care facilities, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities and long distance transports, as well as contracts for 911 services and special event medical coverage for Georgia Tech athletic facilities and other venues. Central EMS is also part of the disaster response team contracted through FEMA. Central EMS currently employs more than 340 EMTs, paramedics, communication and billing specialists.